Crimea has become the focus in a crisis which has wide-ranging implications.
For many Russians, Crimea has a strong emotional resonance. For Ukraine, its loss would be an enormous blow.
In Simferopol, where armed men are stationed in the streets, feelings run deep.
“For me, it’s most important to keep peace here. There is no difference – in Russia or in Ukraine. The most important thing is that they don’t put pressure on us,” says Yuriy.
“Some politicians say that the Russian language is not a state language of Crimea. That’s why people are protesting.”
Another man, Alexandr, adds: “There are some people with weapons, but it is not just to shed blood. The point is that only those who are strong can fight for their own rights. There is no other way for us. There’s an illegitimate power in Kyiv now.”
Elsewhere in Simferopol, during some heated exchanges, one man asks another what he’s wearing. In response, the man says it’s the Ribbon of St George – which is a Russian military symbol.
“You don’t deserve to wear it,” the other man – Dmitry – says back.
It is a “symbol of freedom” is the reply.
“I am against all these crowds. There are government authorities that could take the right decisions. Are these government authorities who have gathered people and appoint their own people, presidents and others?” he asks euronews.
“Is that a government? What about Kyiv? There were people uprising. But here it is not the same, completely not the same.”
Euronews correspondent Sergio Cantone, who is in Simferopol, says: “The local pro-Russian population is enthusiastic about the presence of of the unidentified soldiers seen here. This could all be viewed as being part of a game between Moscow and Kyiv – especially after the changes in Kyiv.”
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